Background: Febrile respiratory illness due to adenovirus was historically endemic at military basic-training centers. Various types of adenovirus are very hardy, able to survive on surfaces for several weeks. Virus-related morbidity was effectively controlled by a vaccine from the early 1970s until its discontinuation in 1999, at which point rates increased dramatically. Re-introduction of a vaccine in 2011 has again brought adenovirus-related infection under control.
Methods: Surfaces of barracks and the clinic were swabbed at a military recruit-training center that regularly had epidemic rates of adenovirus-related febrile respiratory illness. The specimens were assayed by either culture, PCR, or both, to determine the presence of adenovirus.
Results: Assays conducted before the re-introduction of the vaccine showed presence of adenovirus on a variety of surfaces in the barracks and clinic. Assays conducted 2 to 3 years after the re-introduction of the vaccine, when incidence was virtually zero, showed no adenovirus.
Conclusion: The adenovirus vaccine has been effective in eradicating the virus from both humans and surfaces where it had once thrived, suggesting that adenovirus cannot survive in the environment and does not contribute to human-to-human transmission when it has no human reservoir.